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No accountability following Confederate flag incident, Tumwater parent says

Last month, a Confederate flag displayed during a Veterans Day assembly at Tumwater’s Bush Middle School sparked outrage, prompting a public apology from school district officials.

Now, Olympia-based Full Circle United is asking for a full investigation of the incident, and of the Bush Middle School employees involved in planning the assembly.

Several members of the group attended a Thursday night Tumwater School Board meeting to make the request in person. The district’s Board of Directors did not respond to the comments made during the meeting.

Malika Lamont, a Bush Middle School parent and member of Full Circle United, said she was present at the Veterans Day assembly and was shocked to see the Confederate Flag displayed. She said she is disappointed in the lack of accountability following the incident, and feels like district officials have been dismissive in the aftermath.

“It appears that there is no internal or external accountability that is willing to be shared,” Lamont said.

“Tumwater School District has taught me over the last night that I cannot question their actions and get responses that are accurate and truthful.”

Part of the issue, she said, is that the students present at the assembly still haven’t been taught the context surrounding the Confederate flag and its significance as a racist symbol.

School district officials previously told The Olympian that the Confederate flag was displayed as part of a program showing the chronological history of flags from 1775 to present. The program has remained the same for several years — and this is the first time it has generated a negative response.

“It’s been a longstanding tradition,” said Laurie Wiedenmeyer, the district spokeswoman. “…It’s been (presented) many, many years.”

Superintendent John Bash said during a November school board meeting that he didn’t believe that the flag belonged in the school.

“Having the flag there at all was an act of insensitivity and failed to meet our standards for a safe, respectful, and culturally sensitive school environment,” Bash said.

Kathy Kravit-Smith, an Olympia School District parent and member of Full Circle United, said at Thursday’s meeting that as a parent of a child of color she knows well that racism and bullying are still present in schools.

“I know that racism and bullying are real and systemic,” Kravit-Smith said.

“Racism is serious and has a detrimental effect on children every day.”

Full Circle United sent a letter on Dec. 12 to Bash, and the district’s six school board members.

“We had requested a full, fair, and impartial investigation of the Veteran’s Day event, and the employees who were involved in the decision making. The Board has denied this request,” the letter reads.

“With all due respect, from our standpoint, the investigation that was conducted did not meet the basic standards of fairness and objectivity.”

According to Full Circle United’s Facebook page, the group formed following the 2015 shooting two black men by a white Olympia Police Department officer.

Amelia Dickson: 360-754-5445, @Amelia_Oly

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